Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Just Stop Oil is both destructive and IGNORANT!

For many years, I used to visit the BP Portrait Awards Night at the National Portrait Gallery to photograph the winning artists. In doing so, I used to have walk past the demonstrators against BP's sponsorship of this important portrait competition.  I said "Excuse me" and they kindly moved to let me pass. Respect on both sides.

I understood where they were coming from. It made sense - even if I disagreed with them - as explained in a series of posts about sponsorship of art (see end of this post)

However words very nearly fail me when it comes to some of the utter stupidities of the Just Stop Oil's initiatives in relation to art galleries and famous oil paintings - but not quite.  Hence this post!

The demonstrations

Graffiti sprayed onto walls of art galleries and glueing themselves to paintings
is standard practice for these demonstrators

To date there have been various demonstrations around the UK involving destruction of property and demonstrators gluing themselves to very old artwork and archival frames as follows

  • June 29th - Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum - 
  • July 1st - Manchester Art Gallery
  • July 4th - National Gallery
  • July 5th - Royal Academy

Not so one of my followers who very neatly summed it up when he pointed out 

It's the wrong sort of oil!

or another who commented

Ian Dugdale
Just think about all the petro-chemical solvent that will be needed to remove all the graffiti. Wouldn’t be needed without their actions.

So let's highlight 

  • it's the wrong sort of oil
  • the wrong places are being attacked for no good reason
The one on the left apparently enjoys foreign holidays involving lots of flights

The wrong sort of oil

Some of the protestors are art students.

You'd think they'd know that oil paint has nothing whatsoever to do with petroleum!

The oil used in oil paint is very often linseed oil.

Linseed oil is:

  • pressed from flax seeds - which have been grown for centuries if not millenium without adverse effects
  • biodegradeable
  • non toxic
Other oils used as a viscous medium for oil paint include walnut oil and poppy oil.

They all sound very green to me - and precisely the antithesis of what these very silly  infantile protestors are complaining about.

The wrong places i.e. no oil sponsorship


Indeed BP has very nearly stopped backing the arts per se.

On the page on its website dealing with sponsorship of the arts in the UK it highlights the following

In 2016, in support of our strategy, we announced a further five-year investment of £7.5 million from 2018 for a range of projects at the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House

So basically, not one of the art galleries targeted have been in receipt of oil money - and one of them is closed at the moment!

There are no grounds whatsoever for attacking these places.

On 14th June I walked home from an art exhibition along Horse Guards
- only to find that some very expensive machinery involved in 
cleaning red paint thrown on the Treasury Building by Just Stop Oil demonstrators

Indeed I also find the waste of public money involved in cleaning off the paint thrown at the Treasury to be abominable, given others (from Gandhi to Greenham Common to Dame Deborah James) have demonstrated extremely well how effective other forms of PEACEFUL campaigning can be. 

Destructive protests just serve to alienate very many people.

The rules of effective protests are

  1. First do no harm
  2. Get your facts right
  3. Don't annoy the wrong people 
So far as I'm concerned they're getting it very badly wrong on EVERY SINGLE LEVEL! 

While I support environmentalism, in no way do I support people who behave in such an ignorant and destructive way to no good end. 

Many think - and I agree - that they need to grow up and stop behaving like young people with a bad attack of the teenage tantrums.

REFERENCE: BP sponsorship

I've written about BP's sponsorship of the Arts and the various views taken about it on a number of occasions:
My view is clear - as stated back in 2015.
I'll state my case up front. I really am not in the least bit bothered by BP's sponsorship of art galleries and museums. I'm far more concerned about:
  • fossil fuel companies behaving in a social responsible manner
  • those trying to repair their reputation paying a fair price to society for the privilege of being associated with a prestigious art gallery or museum which only exists due to generous state support. 
Of course I'd rather that energy sources came from renewable sources. However until somebody makes energy consumption from non-fossil fuel a cost effective and efficient proposition for most of the companies and families in the UK (and elsewhere) I don't see much alternative to the continued use of fossil fuels.

That in turn means oil companies will be looking for ways of sanitising their image - and offers a wonderful opportunity for sponsorship - so long as this is at the right price.

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